page by Bill Pagel
Review by Marilyn Di Carlo - Ames
The show opening recording "...the has-been..." was back tonight and from
the minute the curtain went up the band was sizzling and smoking in what
was the most powerful and hottest show of the three nights here at the
beautiful Paramount Theatre in Seattle.
Just Like a Woman was absolutely stunning and unforgettable.
The two violins on It's Alright, Ma were intense.
Bob and Elana serenading on harp and violin during Floater was lovely,
equally enjoyable was the wicked, mischievious look in Elana's eyes during
this segment of the song.
Highway 61 was explosive.
Bob treated us to long strands of perfectly executed harp playing on I'll
Be Your Baby Tonight.
You Go Your Way was far out and played so loud.
Honest With You was syrupy and mesmerizing.
Gotta love that banjo on Hollis Brown, although the sound of the bands
instruments was uneven and went in and out. Nonetheless, Dylan's voice was
steady and clear throughout.
Summer Days is a song we hear again and again on tour and it just keeps
getting better and better. Tonight the band tore it up and ripped it up.
I stronly recommend catching this leg of the tour and checking out the new
line up. Surprises abound.
Marilyn Di Carlo - Ames
Review by William Feinberg
Show was good. Haggard was much better than I anticipated – didn’t just
play just the crowd favs, he included a number of newer tunes that I think
have much more soul and depth – although you’ve got to throw “mama tried”
which he did.
Dylan looked good and you could see the energy - people were pumped when
he came on – he was bopping around all night and on the keys. As I’m sure
you know, he was backed up by a sextet. For starters, there was not much
of a country twang at all to the set despite what I had read going into
the show. The band's “sound” was more rock focused and somewhat uneven
throughout the night with a lot of song focus on some of his "rock" songs
from “love and theft” and “time out of mind” (e.g. tweedlee dee, summer
time). I thought the band was a bit overbearing – there were 2 guitars and
at times 2 violins – it was not that you could not hear Dylan, it was that
you couldn’t really make out a lot of the instruments. For most of the
show, you could not really make out one violin, much less two. A quartet -
I think - would have sounded better and evened the overall sound out a
bit. Tune highlights were: a great version of Hollis Brown – especially
the ending, sing me back home (a Haggard tune that he sang all 3 nights)
and despite my usual take or leave attitude about Watchtower, it was
pretty good (I usually prefer the acoustic version), most likely you go
your way . . . and it’s alright, ma – which he really “reptillianened”
out. The show was about 1¼ to 1½ hours. Overall, a pretty good show in an
awesome venue with a fantastic line-up + my buddy got us 11th row on the
floor which weren’t too bad.
Review by Stephen Scobie
I saw all three Seattle shows. They had a few sublime moments -- "Mr
Tambourine Man," "This Wheel's on Fire," "Ballad of Hollis Brown" -- a lot
of good moments, and some frank experimentation. At times it looked like
on-stage rehearsal, even audition. I have no idea what the second
guitarist is doing there; he looked bored, and he certainly couldn't be
heard. The idea I took away from it was that Bob wants a band without
soloists. After years of Campbell and Sexton, he wants the band
anonymous, indistinguishable. He wants the band as a single, unified
instrument that he can play.
And from the sheer point of view of posture and orthopedics, couldn't he
have his microphone six inches higher??
Still, what the hell, they were three fine shows. I enjoyed every
minute of them.
Review by Jay
It had been ten years since Bob had last played the Seattle
Paramount. From my perspective, 1995 was a year where he earned back
many fans finding a strong voice and band and sobriety was setting in.
He finally returned to this beautiful theatre with a new evolution of
his band. I didn't see Monday or Tuesday. I will I'll acknowledge a
bit of raggedness from some of the new folks in his band. But when it
clicked, it worked well, and I think that was clicking most of the time.
The opening "To be Alone with You" was nicely delivered (following that
new long Al Santos introduction that debuted in Seattle in 2002).
And yes, I felt alone with Bob, because I had obtained a bobdylan.com
pit orchestra seat, which put me literally in front of Bob. No, he made
no eye contact, didn't give me any high fives, or become my friend. He
stared intently at the papers on his steel guitar propped next to the
key boards, and monitored the band constantly. (And I must ask why he
uses a perfectly good steel guitar as a music stand, - maybe he plays it
some nights.) And every pleasure has an some pain -the sound on stage
is a bit warped, so I can't really assure you how it sounded in the
house. But it was as close to alone with Bob as I'll ever get - the
only closer people were on stage. Thanks to bobdylan.com for making
that happen. (And I can only note that some people in row A or B
with Ebay debts probably expected "real" front row tickets, only to
discover a pit full of serious fans. I guess Bob would say "Pay for
your ticket and don't complain".)
"I'll be your Baby Tonight" followed, and the band showed enthusiasm.
sort of "hey, this one went well in rehearsal and I know where I am
supposed to solo." Bob started his generous use of harp and found a
nice groove on this song. He has changed the chorus just enough to make
it sound tight and new. Tweedle Dee had Bob giving great emotion to his
enunciation in several versus. The new guitarist Denny Freeman turned
it up on this song - plays a hollow body electric mostly. Twangy when
needed, and jazzoid on other songs. Donny Herron - the
multiinstrumentalist, worked his pedal steel mostly loud and sometimes
too loud. They impressed and distracted. Some licks that were squeezed
in late and out of time. And sometimes it was simply too much - I
think it should be an option that on some songs some band members sit
out. (Sure, I am just asking for a little solo guitar or piano work,
too. -That wouldn't be too much to press for?)
"Just like a Woman" received a strong crowd response. I have to
avoid thinking of that Woody Allen movie where his insipid date uses
these lyrics to extol Dylan's genius. That said, Bob stopped time with
this one, sang the heck out of it, and reached the peak of "I just don't
fit" with a great sense of sorrow. Again, a harp led a jam for a long
fade out. "It's all right Ma" followed, a long time favorite for about
30 years. The band found a nice groove, two violins, and Bob singing
with expression and care to make the performance excellent. The
guillotine line rang truer than ever.
"Floater" followed, a favorite on the new album. Oddly, Elena and
Donny Herron sort of forgot their little violin duet line at the
beginning, doing better as the song progressed. Elena spent much of
the show smiling so hard at Bob I couldn't tell if she was a fan living
a dream, or she hopes that the flash of her pretty eyes would entrance
Bob. In the end, I think she was looking for clues on songs (but she
has a wonderful smile that she had to strain to stifle during the
applause and "line up" at the end of the show). Close to stage it was
often tough to hear her.
"Highway 61" got a workout. Stu Kimball started to make his presence
known with Fender guitar. Unlike Denny, Stu seemed tight with the songs
throughout, but his register and sound was sometimes a bit buried. And
yes, George and Tony were incredible still on every song. George is
among the most interesting drummers I've heard. They helped make up for
the slight shortcomings of the newbies and really tried to help drive
the band. George is a very sympathetic drummer with Bob and it shows
that they like playing together.
On "Make you Feel My Love" Bob started with clipped vocals and began
using his full vocal chords after a while. And yes, I could hear the
piano, even a bit of a solo. The song was nicely performed and built
up. He really showed that he liked singing it. It managed to sound
quite sad. Personally, I'd like the song with less band, more stark.
The band then went smoothly into a relaxed intro to "You'll go your
way, I'll go Mine" that used a very nice galloping groove. Things
clicked. Bob smiled (just a little) at the band and bopped around stage
afterward looking a bit more like he might approve of the sound - which
was more Blonde on Blonde than I would have expected. "Honest with
Me" hadn't changed - unless you count losing Charley Sexton and Larry
Campbell's guitar work. Yes, it had suffered a bit. The new band did
not achieve that cool Butterfield Blues Band assault that Charley and
Larry achieved in 00 and 01. But I think the new band will emerge with a
cool large sound as they work out parts a bit more.
And then Bob earned the price of admission with a stunning rendition of
"Hollis Brown" Banjo by Donny. Fiddle was finally clear (given that
the soundmen could make Bob's 01 acoustic sets sound so good, I don't
know why they can't do a bit better with Donny and Elena). This was
delivered with perfection on vocals, and an arrangement and drive
reminiscent of the best versions of Hard Rain, Masters of War, John
Brown, or Highwater. Bob even did a wonderful cold coyote howl. Goose
bumps. Building ever so intensely on each verse. This song might have
lasted for a full day - it sort of managed to really capture the crowd
like Sugar Baby during its first outings.
"Summer days" worked for the new band too. Solos were delivered with
more force and confidence. Then a line up and the encores, starting
with "Sing me Back Home"r. I've known and loved this song for a long
time. It would be nice if he'd do it during Merle's set with Merle's
tight band - but I liked it. And then band introductions (but no
jokes!) and then "Watchtower" emerged from a cloud of noise (noise that
made me hope for Cold Irons Bound). Stu and Denny reached for some
Hendrix inspirations in Jimi's home town. Donny played a treble guitar
(?) and added great atmosphere. I don't think they are reaching the
awesome peak of the Charley /Bob/ Larry guitar army, who showed
themselves to be true guitar heros. Stu was, however, pretty heroic.
All in all, a timely 90 minute show. I'll reserve my judgment on the
sound until Saturday in Portland where I am further back, but I hope
that this band moves more towards the great hypnotic clarity that has
been a hallmark of Bob this past decade. And perhaps he'll play Boots
of Spanish Leather, too. ;-)
Amos Lee was great, as was Merle. The crowd with reserved seats
might have sapped some energy from the room, but was attentive and quiet
- which seems like a good thing if compared to the all-too-common
summer scene where I encounter scene makers who think a music concert is
something you talk through. Like the audience, Bob was all business.
As he concentrates on the new band, he seems to lose the option of
totally immersing himself in a song, like when he'd dance with the
guitar held high, or the harp in one hand and the other waving.
Review by Russell Kelly
Bob Dylan’s set on Wednesday at the Paramount was the polar opposite of
the night prior. The band came out firing immediately and managed to
maintain it for most of the set. But, I must give credit where it’s due.
Which means I will start at the beginning.
If you are holding tickets for this tour DO NOT show up late. This is the
Bob Dylan “SHOW,” after all. Amos Lee is quite good and worth a listen.
He’s got a good band backing him up, and a voice that will knock you out.
Merle Haggard and the Strangers are perhaps the highlight in terms of
energy and connection with the audience. On this night, people stood up
again and again as Merle cranked out his classics. He has a presence on
stage that is something to see. As the elder statesman in this Show, I
suppose he knows he has to set the standard.
In a review of Monday’s show, a certain Seattle newspaper critic made an
observation about Merle and his reluctance to sing Okie From Muskogee.
Too bad the out-of-touch scribe missed Wednesday’s show. Merle sang Okie
and it brought many in the audience to their feet. Yes, about 3 or 4
people near me booed a few times during the song, but those on their feet
and screaming with delight during this song drowned them out. The biggest
cheer…and it was LOUD…was after the line, “…we don't let our hair grow
long and shaggy, Like the hippies out in San Francisco do.” The crowd
roared! Hilarious! -- not because anyone’s feelings were being hurt, or
political views insulted – but, because it is a song with not a little
tongue and cheek that is still able to make its point. It should come as
no surprise that there are many Dylan fans who are tired of
America-bashing. Merle seemed a bit overwhelmed by the reaction he got,
and said nothing when it was over. He was grinning from ear to ear.
Nothing else from any of the three bands, on either night I attended,
gripped the crowd like this performance. Do not miss the Show in its
entirety. Be sure to bring your sense of humor and you’ll be just fine.
As stated, Dylan’s set was much improved from Tuesday night. Maybe Mt.
Saint Helen's rumblings knocked him into shape. His voice was clearer and
stronger, and the band was a good deal more organized. Stu Kimball has
settled into a role similar to what John Jackson used to fill. Stu stands
to Bob’s left and takes cues throughout the night. He’s also the guy
Dylan looks to most often, even if just to smile in that “inside joke”
kind of way – which happened often over the last two nights.
I did notice Tony Garnier helping out tonight by letting Denny know when
to take a lead -- something that had been sorely lacking the night prior.
Also notable was that Donnie was a bit more reserved. He didn’t take
nearly as many leads. Meanwhile, Elana flourished compared to Tuesday’s
show. Her volume level was better and she got leads in some pretty key
spots. Not the least of which was Floater.
The band, though not yet a cohesive unit, at least looks good with their
matching suits --gray with black shirts. Elana also wore the same outfit
both nights -- a form fitting…ahem…black dress. Phew!
Something I neglected to mention about the show last night was that Bob
blew his nose numerous times throughout the show. He did the same
tonight. A cold? He didn’t look any worse for wear.
Some observations on the songs:
To Be Alone With You: A good start. A quick tempo and Dylan’s voice was
noticeably better from the start.
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight: Dylan had a lot of fun with this one, “I’ll
beeeeee…….your baby, tooooooooo-night!” He’d crack himself up and then
look at Stu for validation.
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum: A really weak performance, just like last
night. He muttered and mangled. Still, the band hung in there and
sounded pretty good -- very similar to the album version.
Just Like A Woman: Perhaps the song of the night. The arrangement was
almost exactly like the Woodstock ’94 version. Beautiful! Bob took great
care to deliver each line like he meant it. I can’t say enough about this
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding): This was done with almost a blues
kind of feel to it. The band sounded great, but Dylan rushed the words a
bit. Pretty good, though.
Floater (Too Much To Ask): Another beautiful performance for this song.
The words were neatly delivered and the band sounded sweet! Elana and
Donnie played fiddle. Strangely enough, that pretty little fiddle part of
the song seemed to be done out of key. I’m not sure who was out, but it
seemed like it could have been both of them. It did not detract from the
song, though. And, Elana got to really rip into a solo here. She did
well -- A sign of good things to come from her.
Highway 61 Revisited: Weak performance by Bob, but the band gets to jam
out. Denny nailed a nice solo. I hope he gets to cut loose more often in
the future. His guitar sounds great!
Make You Feel My Love: This took me by surprise. It was also yet another
very pretty performance by Bob and band. He delicately went about singing
each line, and the band provided a quiet background.
Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine): Another surprise for me.
This was arranged just like the Blonde version. Stu and Denny really
nailed this one. A whole lot of fun to listen to! The chorus was
well-delivered and the crowd went nutty. The lyrics were clear throughout
and the band smoked.
Honest With Me: Boring. Is it the performance, or just that the song
does not hold up well? Hard to tell. I took the opportunity to get
Ballad Of Hollis Brown: Yet another surprise and just an awesome
performance! It was acoustic and each member of the band seemed to add
some haunting sound to the song. Elana’s fiddle was particularly dark and
beautiful. Bob delivered each line slowly and with care. Gorgeous!
Summer Days: A ho-hum performance. It doesn’t even seem like the crowd
gets that excited about this song at this point. Dylan’s delivery is so
lazy. I would lump this in with Tweedle Dee, Highway 61 and Honest With
Me as songs I wish he’d put away for a bit. There’s just so little spark,
and the delivery is so bad it’s distracting.
Sing Me Back Home: This song is nice and Bob’s singing was decent.
Still, it doesn’t work very well this late in the show. Too slow. Now,
if Merle had come out to sing along…that would have brought the house
All Along The Watchtower: I didn’t think I’d say this, but this was
excellent! The band would play along quietly during the verses and then
explode in between. Bob issued the lyrics like they were brand new.
Powerful! A nice ending.
The Bob Dylan Show is likely to pick up steam as it rolls along. I am
thankful that Bob and band turned things around before he left Seattle.
It will be interesting to hear from others along the road.
P.S. the program, Limited Edition #007.04 is nothing if not intriguing.
Some of the pictures are new (including a hilarious, recent photo of Bob
on his motorcycle; and one with an unnamed family at what I suspect is a
hospital located somewhere south of the U.S. border) and some are not.
But, the mystery is in the writing – which consists of ONLY a reprinted
1992 interview from the Times Sentinel. The subject of the interview?
The movie, Hearts of Fire. No, that’s not a typo. I suspect each tour
stop will have a different edition, so I hope folks will report on the
Highlights from #007.04:
Q: So you read the script?
Q: So what did you think after you read it?
A: I thought it was a terrible script, a pointless story. There was
nothing about it that rang true at all.
Q: So why did you do it, then?
A: I did it for the money. I mean, why else would I do it? They
probably paid me as much as they paid DeNiro or Pacino to play a role. I
mean, how could I not?
Q: Were there rehearsals?
A: Oh yeah, in London where it was filmed there were some. The only guy
who had any acting experience was Rupert (Everett). He was the only real
actor on the set.
Q: Did he help you at all?
A: Are you kidding? We stayed drunk most of the time.
Q: Do you think the studio had high hopes for this movie?
A: No, no. It was some kind of death wish for somebody. The director
himself, he died right around the opening night premier of the film in
London. That always seemed strange to me.
Review by Tim Whittome
Bob Dylan began his latest tour on the strength of a series of strong
performances across all three nights in Seattle and with a crack band in
tow that sounded good even if most of the members looked quite bored.
However, I loved the new violin player, Elana. She stepped out well on a
few songs and smiled throughout but she was the exception to the general
bored demeanor of everyone else.
On the whole, Dylan looked good and sounded good although I still find it
hard to get used to the new and seemingly permanent vocal croak that leads
me to fear that Dylan will just collapse one day on stage. He pushes
himself and his voice to such limits sometimes. One reviewer of these
shows wondered why Bob's mike couldn't just be raised a little higher and
I agree. It's low threshold looks awful and makes Bob crouch and bend till
you feel his whole back will just snap from the strain. It is not as if
the piano playing is worth hearing to compensate for the poor posture - it
is so low in the mix and besides which, Bob plays each song the same way.
We're not talking here about the sort of playing that graced Ballard of a
Thin Man from 1966 or When He Returns from 1979/80.
Each night at the beautiful Paramount Theater in Seattle featured stunning
highlights. It's All right Ma from Monday and Wednesday, Sugar Baby and
Tambourine Man from Monday, Tweedle Dee, Down Along Cove, It's All Over
Now and High Water from Tuesday and Floater, Just like A Woman and the
stunning Hollis Brown from Wednesday were all amazing performances that
showed that Bob is still at the top end of his game. Unfortunately,
though, there were low points surrounding these standouts and these made
the songs and performances that were stunning all the more so by their own
contrasting inadequacies. Why for example is Bob still playing Honest
With Me and Summer Days? Does he like them that much or are they just
hooks to anchor the sets and settle the band? For me, these songs have
moved long past their sell-by-dates and I just feel sorry for Tony Garnier
and Recelli that they have to keep playing these things. Neither song is
that good anyway and playing them every night as Bob has done since 2001
just makes them a thousand times worse.
However, these are minor gripes as each night's standouts for the most
part made the admission price worth it. I didn't see Merle or Amos and
lots of other people seemingly didn't either. I know little or nothing
about either performer and looking back I guess I should have seen Merle
but I didn't. Maybe not going puts too much pressure on having to enjoy
the Bob portion of the shows which unfortunately are getting shorter and
shorter these days. The upside to that of course is that Bob is able to
ring in lots of changes from night to night. There were some nine changes
from Monday to Tuesday for example in Seattle and lots of other changes
for Wednesday and it looks like the trend is continuing with the Portland
shows. This is good and will hopefully keep Bob and the band interested
until they reach New York next month. Maybe the tour will settle down to
a fixed rhythm but I doubt it somehow. The changes are good, and so I
would have no hesitation in recommending these shows to those of you out
there still wondering whether to see Bob in 2005 after having seen him in
2004 during a run of what I am told were not very good shows for the most
Oh, one last thing. One of the staff at the Paramount told me that Bob
was whisked off to a 'meet and greet' at the EMP after Monday night's
show. Don't know if anyone can confirm that or not? It wasn't reported in
the Seattle press. I did ask them at the EMP on Saturday if he had been
but none of the regular staff there knew, or if they did, they weren't
saying they did but passed the buck to the security guys. The EMP is not
open on Mondays and so if Bob did show up there, it would have had to have
been a private showing. The exhibition is great by the way but that is
Review by Roger & Claire Cutler
My date (wife of 20 years) and I undertook yet another pilgrimage to see
Bob. This time in Seattle for the first 3 shows of the 'song and dance
man's' latest tour. Bob was in fine form and did not disappoint. Each
concert had a distinct mood. Perhaps with Bob nothing should be
astonishing, however in these days of 'mail it in' prefab concerts, it
sure is refreshing to see a different show each of the 3 nights which
included a total of 43 performances and 34 different songs - remarkable by
any standard. Ironically the only song which was performed in all 3 shows
was a Merle Haggard tune; 'Sing Me Back Home' which Bob performed with all
the nostalgic nuances.
If Bob is true to form, the rest of the tour's shows will be unique with a
combination of the various songs performed in Seattle and the odd addition
as is His fancy. Bob continues to breathe life into his classics (LARS,
Highway 61, Watch Tower) which have become standards in recent years.
However it was other tunes that took these shows to another level.
Not to be missed: 'It's Alright Ma' was a powerful performance with the
band gelling well and Bob articulating the angst and frustration with
"people games". The crowd let out the always welcome roar of approval when
Bob bellowed "But even the President of the United States must sometimes
have to stand naked". "Just Like A Woman" continues to be a crowd favorite
and Bob sung it with such feeling it was hard to believe it has been
around for almost 40 years now. "Masters of War" was sung with such
contempt for the warmongers that it was difficult to miss its relevancy to
the present day state of affairs. That Bob's lyrics of yesteryear continue
to enlighten (some) and provide insight (for some) into our world simply
confirms the brilliance of his work.
Gems not frequently heard but poignantly powerful: Ballad of Hollis Brown
was haunting. Bob delivered a powerful slow performance with clarity which
left the audience spellbound. Who would have thought that it would be a
show stopper? At the other end of the spectrum was the fun loving almost
giddy rendition of "You Ain't Go'in Nowhere" which had the place hopping
and feeling upbeat from the first notes. The violin was a nice fit for
this one. For those who like Bob to stick to traditional arrangements, the
rendition of "Most Likely You Go Your Way" was right off "Blonde on
Blonde". I think even Bob had a smile on his face when he sang "You say my
kisses aren't like his; But I'm not going to tell you why that is. I'm
going to let you pass".
Extraordinary performances: Both Monday and Tuesday shows featured a song
with Bob at a stand up microphone at the front of the stage; just him and
his harmonica. "The Man in Me" (Monday) and "This Wheels on Fire"
(Tuesday) were mesmerizing as Bob performed front and center with his
muse. The crowd loved this. He should do more of this yet inexplicably it
was absent from Wednesday's show. If you're at a show and you see the mic
up front it's no guarantee that you'll get to witness these sublime
performances as the mic was present throughout the show Weds yet remained
unused. A real surprise in this category was "Make You Feel My Love". It
was surprisingly the only tune in all 3 shows from "Time Out of Mind" and
it stopped everyone cold in their tracks. Bob sang softly and with such
feeling you could hear a pin drop.
Odds and ends: Bob's Oscar continues to accompany the tour with its
preferred spot on stage. Other stage props include an acoustic guitar
resting on a stand right behind Bob which went untouched for all 3 shows;
teasing one to believe and hope that he has something in his repertoire
for some lucky crowd on this tour. Or is he simply adding confusion to the
mystery of his disability to his hand/fingers preventing him from playing.
He makes reference to a serious hand injury in Chronicles Vol. 1. Bob
keeps us guessing. The last prop may be the new violinist Elana Fremerman
who is center stage, both figuratively and symbolically. She exuded
sensual lustful looks at Bob throughout the shows. This may be unsettling
to the other band members; particularly Tony who seems subdued if not put
off by the new band member's profile at center stage.
The shows were impressive on various levels but essential is that Bob is
as strong as I've seen him in a sometime; particularly his voice and his
harp. How someone his age with the miles he has logged can find the wind
to produce that sound blows (pun intended) me away. It will you too. Don't
miss these shows.
Roger and Claire Cutler
page by Bill Pagel
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